Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 400, 23 June 2021

Global Peace Index: Last year, three of the nine regions in the world became more peaceful
Abigail Miriam Fernandez

In the news
On 17 June, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) released the 15th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI). According to the report, this year's results show that the average level of global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.07 per cent, the ninth deterioration in peacefulness in the last thirteen years. Of the 163 countries in the GPI, 86 recorded improvements, 75 recorded deteriorations, and two recorded no change in score. Further, the report reveals a world in which the conflicts and crises that emerged in the past decade have decreased, only to be replaced with a new wave of tension and uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising tensions between several major powers. It states that 2021 was the first year since 2010 that the indicators for the intensity of conflict and the number of conflicts improved.
 
Further, the report states that only three of the nine regions in the world became more peaceful over the past year, with the largest improvement occurring in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), followed by Europe and South Asia. Meanwhile, the largest regional deterioration occurred in North America; however, the MENA region remains the least peaceful region in the world.
 
Issues at large
First, violence continues to be one of the most pressing issues for people globally. According to the report, the newly released Lloyd's Register Foundation World Risk Poll which examines attitudes towards risk and violence across 145 countries, cited violence as the biggest risk to daily safety in 49 countries with over 60 per cent of people at least somewhat worried about sustaining serious harm from violent crime. However, despite the high fear of violence across the world, most people feel that the world is getting safer, with nearly 75 per cent of people globally feeling as safe or safer currently than they did five years ago.
 
Second, the unfolding impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace. According to the report, violent events related to the pandemic peaked in April 2020, with an average of 200 violent pandemic-related events per month from August 2020 to April 2021. Although it was thought that the pandemic might help reduce violence around the world, the impact of the pandemic on active conflicts was short-lived, with some of these effects likely to last for years to come.
 
Third, the cost of violence. According to the report, the economic impact of violence increased by 0.2 per cent over the last year, mainly due to the increases in military expenditure which rose by 3.7 per cent. However, the economic impact of terrorism fell by 17.5 per cent. In 2020, the economic impact of violence on the global economy amounted to USD 14.96 trillion in constant purchasing power parity (PPP) terms which is equivalent to 11.6 per cent of global GDP.
 
Fourth, the importance of Positive Peace. According to the report, the key to building peacefulness in times of conflict and uncertainty is Positive Peace. It states that uneven improvements in the Pillars of Positive Peace can lead to increased violence, highlighting the importance of a holistic, systemic approach to building Positive Peace.
 
In perspective
First, new triggers of conflict and new conflict zones. In 2020, new factors such as the pandemic have become triggers for the conflict. These triggers have not only created new problems but have also aggravated ongoing conflict, leaving authorities perplexed and people more troubled. Additionally, although regions that are least peaceful continued to be the same, new regions such as North America became a hotspot for the conflict due to various circumstances.
 
Second, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Peace. Just as the report suggests, the pandemic is likely to have a lasting impact on ongoing conflicts and will have a significant impact on levels of conflict and violence.

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